New app to track school enrolment, attendance through iris recognition

Bungoma County ICT director Leonard Wakoli (left) and Vince Sila show how BioSIM, which tracks student enrolment and attendance, works using a photo of the iris. PHOTO | COURTESY

What you need to know:

  • Web-based application is designed to determine pupils, teacher presence using biometrics.

Managing student enrolment, classroom attendance and learning can be a rigorous process with the current manual system in most schools.

But this is set to change with the unveiling of a biometric student information management system (BioSIM) developed by Data Vault Systems Enterprises in partnership with a Non-Governmental Organisation, I Choose Life - Africa (ICL).

The web- based application is designed to automate the attendance of students by using biometrics. Its main objective is to improve enrolment, attendance and learning.

Vince Sila, director of operations at Data Vault Systems, says the system uses the iris as a unique identifier because unlike fingerprints, it stabilises at 18 months and remains this way till death.

This means that one can enrol school going children and be able to identify them should they get lost.

The idea was born out of a project by I choose Life who were looking for a way to track the attendance of 10,000 marginalised girls who they were sponsoring.

The applications has been adopted by a number of schools across the country such as Star of the Sea Secondary School and Changamwe Secondary School in Mombasa County, Kaliati Secondary School and Ngonyi Primary Schol in Meru , Ilipolei Secondary school in Laikipia County and Simotwo Primary School.

“If a child is absent for two weeks straight, our system can generate the reports and automatically send them to the ministries of Interior and Education for further action.

The ministries can forward this data to local chiefs who would be required to follow up by going from house tohouse to inquire about the welfare of the child,” Mr Sila told the Business Daily in an interview.

Hes aid parents are expected to account for the child all the time and in this way the authorities can know if the pupil is dead, sick, being abused, lost, trafficked, engaged in child labour, early marriage or FGM.

Enrolment is done once by taking a digital photo of the child, photo of the iris using a special camera, and the child’s biodata like names, age, school, and parents or guardians’ phone numbers.

The information is then saved in a secure server ( Microsoft azure). All this is done using simple smart phones and the affordable iris camera.

Once the data is transmitted to a server via 3G networks, it is encrypted using military grade specs and the schools can have the exact number of students in their institutions.

Roll call can now be done digitally using the app and school heads can access the data via a dashboard that displays all events in real time.

These can be the exact number of students enrolled, students present, those who are late, staff present, absent teachers and those who are late, student’s performance and disciplinary records, among other information.

On possible health risks, Mr Sila says the iris camera uses the same technology as those found on smart phones so it poses no danger to the eyes.

To secure the bio data, once the iris image is captured it is encrypted and thus have no meaning to anyone other than the system.

The application is not only useful to schools but can also help the authorities to track lost children.

The web- based application allows one to log in real-time when the roll call is being done.

Parents receive text messages if their child is late or absent. In this way, they will be able to address the issues quickly before they get out of hand.

The Government can also know the exact number of students in a given school, county and nationally which will help them to budget properly using reliable data.


It can also access other information such as which schools have the most absentees, late comers, best and worst performing schools and best and worst performed subjects, which can help in timely interventions. Teacher absenteeism and head- count either per county or nationally can be ascertained real time.

Mr Sila was motivated by the need to come up with a better way of positively identifying missing and lost children. This was after he saw the front cover of a newspaper that had pictures of missing children with the caption: “Do you know these children?”.

“Some of these kids had been missing for over five years and it occurred to me that there was no way of positively identifying them using their photographs because children grow up real fast and they will not look the same,” he said.

“I knew t the answer would have to be with technology and more specifically biometrics. Since biometrics is unique to all humans, it could be applied to positively identify rescued kids and reunite them with loved ones in a matter of minutes as opposed to days, weeks, years and in most cases never,” he added.

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